Sun throws JavaFX hat into Web app ring

Programmers now can start trying out JavaFX for writing rich Internet applications--and seeing if it's worth using over Adobe's Flash and other alternatives.

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Sun Microsystems on Thursday released a preview version of JavaFX, programming technology the company hopes will be the foundation of splashy, whiz-bang Internet applications.

Sun is promoting JavaFX as a good way to write rich Internet applications.
Sun is promoting JavaFX as a good way to write rich Internet applications. (Click to enlarge.) Sun Microsystems

JavaFX, like its Java progenitor, includes both software to execute programs and a programming language used to write those programs--JavaFX Script for the new technology.

Java has a strong brand in programming circles, but the technology caught on chiefly for use on servers and mobile phones. Sun is trying to go full circle with JavaFX, billing the software as a way to run software on desktop PCs. The software includes support for 2D and 3D graphics, audio and video, and animation.

But JavaFX has an uphill battle. Adobe Systems' Flash is widely used, Microsoft's relatively new Silverlight is headed toward its second, more versatile version, and ordinary HTML Web pages augmented with JavaScript has proven useful for many rich Internet applications that don't require a lot of pizzazz.

The JavaFX developer tools, it should be noted, come with Project Nile, a tool to export content from Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, a hand-off that could help the technology match Adobe's more unified suite of products.

The final release of JavaFX for desktop computers is due in the fall, and Sun plans to release the first version of JavaFX for mobile devices in spring 2009, the company said.